It smells of the gas stove. The steam escaping the tea kettle on the range. The floors are linoleum; they stick to your bare feet. Each step makes a sound as the skin of the bottom of your foot peels from the floor through the air.
Grandpa is sleeping or he is praying or he is already dead. There is lox and bagels and fish-a whole smoked fish with its scales and eyeballs still attached looking at me as if saying, “Well, you gonna eat me or not?” Because even the dead smoked fish has an attitude in Brooklyn. There’s plastic fruit in the other room and plastic fruits on the refrigerator with a magnet that says, “Alex, you’re a great kid!” which is strange for me because Alex is my grandpa and he is at least in his 80s at this point and, to my 7 year old mind, completely incapable of ever being a child, a kid, or anything other than the wrinkled face, slobber collecting in the corner of his mouth, gray whiskers, and eyes that say “I’m tired” or “I love you” or “Where’s the salt?”
The chairs are covered in plastic. The kitchen is so small only my grandma can fit in the space between the refrigerator with the magnets and the stove with the sink backed up against the wall with the pigeons who peep at us. I’m so young when she dies we sell the tenement house that I’ve never even opened the oven door or looked behind the sink and so this place, her kitchen that I am constantly turning back to and turning over and over in my memory is limited to the places my childish mind and body could see. Limited like a dream where you keep turning your head to see and you keep coming back to the same view you started to try to leave.